Wednesday, April 07, 2010

God’s Own Hills

Time may have taken its toll on the capital city of Himachal pradesh, but the charm of a bygone era lives on in many relics of the raj that still are an integral part of life here...

It is not without a reason that Himachal Pradesh is referred to as Devbhumi or the Land of the Gods. The state is fascinating in its pristine natural beauty as well as topographic diversity. It is the home of dense green deodar forests, high-altitude desert, apple orchards, terraced paddy fields and the snow-capped Himalayas sending down snow-melt to feed the lakes and streams. It is also the abode of many temples and monasteries. It offers a large variety of travel destinations and a vacation in these hills of the north can be ever so rejuvenating. And there are travellers who come here for a visit and find the environs so charming that there is no going back. Such is the lure of God’s own hills.

The first town that comes to the mind when a mention is made of Himachal is Shimla of course. This was the summer capital of the Raj and retains many charming colonial relics. The capital of the state, in spite of its overcrowding and haphazard development, still remains a destination of choice for many. It has also been the second most popular destination for Bollywood films behind Kashmir. This hill town also had the honour of having a yesteryear film named after it. Yes, the real star of the debut film of Sadhna and Joy Mukherjee, 'Love in Simla', was the town and its westernised high life: the Miss Simla competition, dance in Devico’s restaurant and the old Jennyrickshaw being pulled across the ridge by the hero for his lady love were some of the highlights of the film. Located at an altitude of 2,128 metres, Shimla has charming tudorbethan and neo-gothic architecture dating from the colonial era. The Mall is the main shopping street as well as the meeting place for people morning and evening. Christ Church on the Ridge is a majestic structure and the second oldest in North India. When in Shimla, a visit to the Jakhu Hill Hanuman temple, the picnic spot of Glen and the beautiful Viceregal Lodge, which now houses the Indian Institute for Advanced Study, become a must.

There are several getaways close by. One of the most alluring spots is Naldehra, just 22 km from Shimla. The rolling greens of this spot captivated Lord Curzon and it became his favourite camping site. A nine-hole golf course was built here in the early 20th century and later expanded to 18 holes. A major tourist attraction here is the Chalets resort with its charming pine log cottages built with technology from Finland. Yatish Sood, who set up this resort, says: “It is eco-friendly pressed board and no Himachal trees were slaughtered to build this retreat.”
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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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